Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Ron Tanner Announces Private Spaces at #BYUFHGC

Ron Tanner, FamilySearch product manager, presented the session “Family Tree Primer for Consultants” at the BYU Family History and Genealogy Conference. He addressed common issues faced by family history consultants of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Dealing with living individuals in a member’s pedigree has been an issue for consultants. Incorrect information could not be corrected except by having the member’s ward clerk fix the membership record and then waiting for the membership record to synchronize to New FamilySearch and then to Family Tree. Tanner announced that that day, 1 August 2014, FamilySearch was instituting new handling of living persons in FamilySearch Family Tree. He told us we were the first to know. Living individuals in New FamilySearch were being copied to Family Tree where they could be changed directly. The process of copying living persons will take the entire month to complete.

While Tanner was short on details of the ramifications, I was able to locate more information elsewhere. In the FamilySearch Help Center an article explains that “All living people and their relationships are stored in a private space.”

FamilySearch Family Tree private space person banner
Each user of Family Tree has a private space. Private spaces help manage data privacy and confidentiality for each user. … Each owner of a copy [of a living Family Tree person] can modify it independently from others. Deceased persons should each be represented only one time in Family Tree and have a common PID. But a living person can be represented in multiple private spaces as a different Family Tree person, and that person will have a different Person Identifier number (PID) in each private space. Searching Family Tree using a living person's name will not find him or her. Searching by the PID will not find him or her in any other [private space] besides [your own]. Living people cannot be sourced.
Family Tree does not [automatically change living people to deceased], even after they are older than 110 years. Users will need to mark their copy of the individuals as deceased and then search for any possible duplicates.

Tanner provided even more information in a reply in FamilySearch’s feedback system:

With the advent of private spaces the rules change such that [the Church’s] membership [department] does not have control of the living member in the tree. You no longer have to go to the ward clerk in order to change your living. Of course, changing member living in Family Tree will not update membership records. One must still go to the clerk to update membership records.

When a ward clerk records that a person is deceased, then a "membership" copy of the person will be placed in the public portions of the tree.…When a person makes their local living copy dead, this record as well becomes public and should show possible duplicate with the membership version. The person who made their local living copy dead should merge these two records together.

Here are a few other topics Tanner covered:

You can find resources for training others about Family Tree at

Tanner said that about 60,000 to 80,000 people still use New FamilySearch each week.

Some users of Family Tree are new. They make mistakes, just like we did when we were new. We need to help them and encourage them.

Discussions among users is not happening soon enough. This may be because notification of changes only occurs once a week. By then, the best moment for discussion is gone. “I’m trying to change that,” he said. “I think you need to be informed sooner, maybe immediately.” Another impediment to discussions is the inability to email others making changes who haven’t made their email public. When consultants help people register, he said they should help the user set their email public. Click Settings > Contact > email > Public. Tanner said he recently got permission to implement a private message system that would allow the exchange of messages with other users even without an email address. [I picture it being similar to the capability that has had for close to a decade.]

Helping users recover passwords and usernames is straightforward. Go to Sign In and after “Forgot your…” click on “user name” or “password.” For a member of the general public, recovery is via email. For those with an LDS account, recovery uses the account recovery system. Recovery can be via mobile phone, email, or membership record number (MRN). If recovering via email, some people may not be aware that most email systems can be accessed via the Internet. Just google the domain name (the part of the email after the @ at-sign). Once you have recovered your password, write it down and put it in your wallet.

Members of the Church who can’t see temple ordinance information need to enter their membership record number. Have them login and click on their username. Select Settings from the dropdown menu. Scroll down and select Yes for the “Are you a member…?” question. Enter the membership record number. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click Save Changes.

To fix wrong relationships, it helps to understand how Family Tree works with relationships. All relationships in Family Tree are of two types: spousal and parent-child. A spousal relationship consists of two people and relationship events such as marriage date and place. A parent-child relationship consists of a child, at least one parent, and relationship types for each parent, such as biological, adopted, etc. Family Tree does not require a spousal relationship between the parents of a child. To correct a relationship, you must leave the person page and go to the relationship page. Go to the Family Members section of the person page and click on either Edit Couple or Edit Parents. The relationship page allows for sources and notes about the relationship.

Tanner explained how to fix your pedigree when half of it suddenly disappears. The reason this occurs is because a glitch occurred when membership records were copied to New FamilySearch and then to Family Tree. To fix the problem, follow these steps (which I’ve copied pretty closely from the syllabus). Go to the relationships on the detail view of the child missing the parent or parents. Review the relationship section to see if the child is showing no parents, a single-parent (mother or father) or two sets of parents (one with both parents and the other with just one of the parents).

If there are no parents listed then,

  1. Add the correct father by clicking Add Father and select the correct father (search or
  2. Click on Edit Parents next to the living child under the newly added father.
  3. In the parent-child relationship click to add a Mother and select the correct mother.

If there is only a single parent in the relationship then,

  1. Click on Edit Parents next to the living child under this relationship
  2. In the parent-child relationship click to add the missing parent and select the correct

If there are two sets of parents, one with both parents and one with only one of the parents

  1. Verify the child is listed under each parent set. If not then call support.
  2. Look at the single parent relationship and open the children tab to see the living child.
  3. Click on Edit Parents next to the living child under the single parent to go to the
    parent-child relationship.
  4. Delete the relationship.

Changing gender is not allowed at this time because New FamilySearch doesn’t allow it and Family Tree is being synchronized with New FamilySearch. Once that connection has been broken, then it will be possible.

The Helper feature is being misused. Its purpose is not to help someone. The purpose is to help those without a computer. Don’t use it to help someone who has forgotten their username or password. It is better to get their account working. To help another person, you need to know their helper number. It defaults to the last five digits of their membership record number. When information is added via the helper feature, Family Tree tracks the name of both the submitter (the helper) and the contributor (the one being helped). Only the contributor name is displayed in the change log.

Here my notes drizzle out. Do you get the feeling I have attention problems? Hopefully he didn’t save anything really important for the very end.

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